On 6 September 2018, the IIS hosted a celebratory event at the Aga Khan Centre to commemorate the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement between SOAS University of London and The Institute of Ismaili Studies (IIS). The Memorandum of Agreement is a formal arrangement whereby SOAS will award MA degrees for the Graduate Programme in Islamic Studies and Humanities (GPISH) and the Secondary Teacher Education Programme (STEP).

Both GPISH and STEP were designed by the IIS following extensive consultations with a wide range of stakeholders and experts in the field of Islamic Studies. The Institute has always worked towards designing and delivering programmes that could match – and possibly exceed – the quality standards of leaders in the UK Higher Education sector. As a result of these efforts, the IIS work and efforts have been consistently rewarded by reviewers, from external examiners and consultants up to the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) - the governing body responsible for the quality assurance of Higher Education institutions nationwide. Commenting on the shared vision of the two institutions, Professor Deborah Johnston, Pro-Director (Learning and Teaching) at SOAS University of London said:

SOAS and The Institute of Ismaili Studies have a history of working together and a shared interest in developing scholarship around the study of Islamic history, tradition and culture from a range of perspectives. Both institutions seek to examine Muslim cultures and societies from a number of disciplines - from the arts and literature to society and politics. SOAS’s move to validate IIS programmes acknowledges their excellent quality and, in particular, we commended IIS on their work around student support and professional development opportunities for staff. Together we look forward to making a significant contribution to enhancing the study of these subjects.

The agreement with SOAS means that for the first time since the inception of GPISH, students who join the programme from September 2019 onwards, will receive a double Master’s degree. An MA in Islamic Studies and Humanities will be awarded by SOAS for the first two years of the programme. Their second Master’s degree will be conferred after the completion of their third year by a UK degree-granting university in a subject area that resonates with the aims of the graduate programme. In addition, STEP graduates will also be awarded an MA in Muslim Societies and Civilisations by SOAS, and a further Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Reflective Practice (PGDip), by UCL Institute of Education.

Reflecting on the formalisation of the partnership, Dr Farhad Daftary, Director of the IIS said:

The accreditation by SOAS is a significant milestone in the history of the IIS’ graduate programmes, and further strengthens our long-standing relationship with an institution that shares our ethos of promoting scholarship and the learning of Muslim cultures and societies. The formalisation of our continued academic partnership will enhance the sharing of knowledge, exchange of ideas and potentially even foster collaborative research and publications in the future. It also gives me great pride that this momentous partnership has coincided with the Diamond Jubilee of His Highness the Aga Khan, and the fortieth anniversary of the IIS.